More or less lithium in our vehicles?

The carbon footprint of EVs

Electric vehicles (EVs) have several benefits. They help keep a good quality of air in cities, reduce sound pollution, and they are more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV).

  1. The sources of energy used to produce the electricity they are powered with.
  2. Their energy consumption.
  3. Their production: An EV can have 30 to 90 % higher production emissions than an ICEV of equivalent size, mainly due to its battery (Ellingsen et al. 2016).

Energy sources

The sources of energy used to fuel an EV can determine if an EV’s total emissions will be higher or lower than those of an ICEV.

Powering an EV from coal-produced electricity results in a higher footprint than using an equivalent size ICEV that is fueled with petrol or diesel (Source: European Environment Agency)

Energy consumption

The energy consumption of a vehicle is directly affected by its weight. A heavier vehicle produces more emissions per kilometer than a lighter one as it requires more energy to move. In fact, the weight of an EV correlates to its energy consumption by a factor of 5.6 kWh/km per 100 kg (Ellingsen et al. 2016).

A heavier vehicle produces more emissions per kilometer as they need more energy to move than a lighter vehicle (Source: CIXI)
EVs produce fewer emissions than an equivalent size ICEV thanks to their higher tank-to-wheel efficiency and cleaner energy sources of electricity. (Source: CIXI)
EVs produce fewer emissions than an equivalent size ICEV thanks to their higher tank-to-wheel efficiency and cleaner energy sources of electricity. (Source: CIXI)

Battery size

The size of the battery plays an important role in the footprint of an EV. It contributes 14% to 26% of the EV’s total life-cycle emissions

The battery contributes to 33% to 46% to the production phase, 4% to 11% to the use phase, and 14% to 23% to the recycling phase. The overall battery contribution represents 14% to 26% of the total lifecycle emissions of an EV. (Source: CIXI)

Beyond CO2

Electric batteries have other environmental impacts, aside from contributing to the carbon footprint of EVs. For example, 75% of the Lithium reserves are located in the water-scarce regions of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The water-intensive extraction of Lithium puts extra pressure on water resources, introduces risks of water, soil, and air contamination, and destroys the local landscape ( Hollender et Shultz 2010).

The HYFIT vehicle

At CIXI we are building the HYFIT, a new type of active and low-footprint vehicle that (re)introduces daily physical activity in our lives. We believe daily physical activity brings more than improved health. We also believe that people are ready to adopt new and lower environmental impact solutions.

How the experiment takes place

People of our community that join the study install a GPX file-generating application in their mobile device. Then they are asked to record their trip every time they take their car during one week. At the end of each trip, participants rename the generated file and send it to us.

Trips card to remember the study for a week. (Source: CIXI)

References

  1. H. C. Righolt and F. G. Rieck, “Energy chain and efficiency in urban traffic for ICE and EV,” 2013 World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS27), Barcelona, 2013, pp. 1–7. doi: 10.1109/EVS.2013.6914820
  2. Linda Ager-Wick Ellingsen et al, “The size and range effect: lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles,” 2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 054010. doi:10.1088/1748–9326/11/5/054010
  3. European Environment Agency. “Infographic: Range of life-cycle CO2 emissions for different vehicle and fuel types” Prod-ID: INF-66-en, Published 29 Aug 2017 Last modified 22 Nov 2017. Ragan’s PR Daily, https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2017/infographics/range-of-life-cycle-co2/view
  4. D. Hall et N. Lutsey, “Effects of battery manufacturing on electric vehicle life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions,” Thr international council on clean transportation — ICCT. Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, San Francisco, Washington, 2018, pp. 1–12. https://theicct.org/publications/EV-battery-manufacturing-emissions
  5. R. Hollender and J. Shultz, “Bolivia and its Lithium: Can the ‘Gold of the 21st Century’ Lift a Nation out of Poverty?” A Democracy Center Report, Cochabamba, 2010. pp. 1–57. https://democracyctr.org/dc_2017/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/DClithiumfullreportenglish.pdf
  6. E. Mann, “Digital Technology is Dependent on Forced Labor: The Exploitative Labor Practices of Cobalt Extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” 2010. https://www.du.edu/korbel/crric/media/documents/ccric-africa-papers/elise_mann.pdf

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CIXI

CIXI

We build Active Low-Footprint “HYFIT” Vehicles